I’ve been faced with a couple of difficult choices recently.
The first concerns the fact that I’ve lately struggled with wanting desperately to take up dancing again. I’ve always wanted to go back, but over the past ten years I’ve come up with every reason in the book to avoid it: I haven’t the money, I’m working too hard, I haven’t the time, there’s no studio near me, I’m shy, etcetera. The single sample class I took a decade ago ended in tears and a vow to never, ever show my face in a studio room again. Looking back, accepting the invitation of a sample class towards the end of a semester was really stupid, because I measured myself (having not danced at all for nine years) against women who had been training for fourteen solid weeks. Barre work was all right, but I stumbled badly in my floor work, and couldn’t remember the moves to match the names the teacher called out in combination sequences as we performed them across the room one by one. It scarred me badly.
I’m taking sample classes at two different ballet studios at the beginning of September. In both, I’ll be starting from the very basic beginner’s classes once again, to preserve mental and emotional sanity as well as to be kind to my body. I’ve retained most of my flexibility and posture (training for six years as your body forms and grows will do that for you), but muscles evolve with you, and I’m not stupid enough to think that I can just jump into an advanced class right off the bat.
So, there; one of my difficult choices. I’ll be dancing at one or both of them this fall.
The second difficult choice revolves around something very personal and emotional that occurred to me four and a half years ago (which scarred much deeper than the dancing issue). It took me quite some time to heal from the original experience, and I eventually dealt with it and moved on (without the other individual in my life, by my choice; I don’t hold grudges, I just don’t offer people the second chance to backstab me). On Sunday, this situation and the individual originally involved in it were resurrected in my memory by three different people, at three distinctly different and unrelated times.
I had a hard time working through what I was supposed to do about this, because I didn’t know what lesson Spirit was trying to teach me: how to surrender and accommodate, or how to say no. I’m very good — too good, some have said — at accommodating. I am bad, very bad, at saying no. In this instance, choosing to accommodate means that other people receive a lower-quality service. After the summer I have had, and the experiences I went through at the spiritual retreat ten days ago, and after meditation and divination and discussion with a couple of people I trust, I have chosen to interpret this as a lesson in saying no. The quality of my teaching and facilitating other people’s spiritual growth is very important to me, and I won’t have that interfered with. I owe that to my students, who trust me.
Trying to puzzle out which lesson I was to be learning through this was not fun. Both outcomes had drawbacks. Whichever lesson I followed through, there was pain and disappointment. Another one of those no-win, choose-the-lesser-evil situations. I had a very emotional day as I evaluated who I was, who I had been, and who I wanted to be in the future. I’ve made my choice now, and it’s the right one.
These are two very different challenges I have worked through. They both involve dealing with pride and spirituality: one expressed through movement and discipline; the other through a final emotional purging, a recognition that everything changes, and an acceptance of a teacher’s full responsibility, which sometimes must include saying no.
Whew. Can I get off the growing-up treadmill for a bit now, please? Just for a rest?